LOGOS STAFF WRITER
Some University of the Incarnate Word students struggle to build community and get to know one another this fall while being temporarily housed six miles off campus in a hotel.
Due to overcrowding of UIW residence halls, Courtyard by Marriott, 8615 Broadway, became a fall haven for students the second year in a row.
“Right now we have approximately 63-64 students living at the hotel but we’re still getting housing applications on a daily basis,” said Diane Sanchez, UIW’s director of residence life. “Last year we only had 40 students living at the hotel for the entire semester so as you can see the number this year has increased.
“It’s all upperclassmen living at the hotel. About five years ago we had some freshmen living at the La Quinta on Jones-Maltsberger and it just didn’t work, so we decided last year to send only upperclassmen to live at the hotel.”
First priority for on-campus housing this year went to incoming freshmen and students transferring from outside of San Antonio.
“I think the one lesson we learned last year that will be helpful this year is that we were more proactive in letting the students know ahead of time, during room reservation, that they would be living at the hotel. This year it wasn’t a big surprise. Last year we didn’t start telling students until July that they were going to be living at the hotel but this year we gave notice as early as March and April. The students were very open to living at the hotel. Most of them just needed a place to live. I haven’t heard one complaint yet.”
Campus Life is trying as much as possible to make sure the students at the hotel share the same experience as if they were living on-campus.
“Our intention is to give these students as much of the same experience as they would have on campus inside the residence hall,” said Dr. Renee T. Moore, dean of Campus Life. “The only difference is the location.”
“Students staying at the hotel are treated the same as regular guests,” Sanchez said. “They are given a free continental breakfast every morning from 6 to 10 a.m. which includes oatmeal, yogurt, fresh fruit, milk and coffee. Housekeeping cleans their rooms three times a week and the students have access to the pool, hot tub, workout room and business office.”
Students assigned to the hotel are given the option of whether or not they wish to purchase a meal plan on campus.
“We’re very flexible because of the circumstances,” Sanchez said. “We don’t want the students to pay more than what they would normally pay living on campus. We took the highest rate they would be paying on campus and made it the hotel rate. We had to make it affordable for the students and the hotel.”
“Students who live on campus are required to have a meal plan,” said Moore. “The university decided not to require the students to have a meal plan unless they absolutely wanted one. The university is also providing every student living at the hotel with a VIA bus pass.”
Moore said most upperclassmen have their own transportation but just in case they want the convenience of taking the bus, they have it.
“So far we’ve had a great experience with the students living at the hotel,” Sanchez said. “They were happy to have our students again as guests this year.”
Each room is housing two students. The room comes with two queen beds, a flat-screen television, mini-fridge and upon request the hotel can install a microwave.
“The hotel actually purchased a grill this year for the students because we asked them to,” Sanchez said. “We want them to have the same experience they would if they were on campus as far as the RAs (resident assistants) hosting events and activities.”
Senior resident assistant Adrienne “Nikki” Brown, a senior education major from Carrollton, Texas, is assigned to the hotel to ensure that happens. Brown hosted her first group event at the hotel Sunday but attributed the small turnout to record hot weather conditions.
“Nikki is great,” Sanchez said. “She is there as a liaison for the students. We only have one RA at the hotel at the moment but we are looking to hire one more.”
Brown, who said she was a resident assistant last year at Bishop Claude Marie Dubuis Hall, believes it will harder to build “community” at the hotel, especially since the Courtyard residents will be moved back to the UIW campus as space opens up.
“I loved Dubuis,” Brown said. “It was really easy building a community which is an important thing for an RA. Unfortunately I think it will be a lot harder to do that here at the hotel. It will be a lot more work. Living at the hotel isn’t permanent. You might get to know someone and the next week they move back to campus.”
Brown said she communicates with the students via Cardinal e-mail — “the Courtyard connection”– since she is not allowed to decorate the halls in the hotel.
“I want the students to be aware of what’s going on on campus,” Brown said. “My hope for everyone is that they get to know each other through the group events and possibly carpool.”
Courtyard resident Anna-Alizette Ruiz, 20, stayed on campus when she was a freshman and off when she was a sophomore. Now a junior, she’s returned – at least through the hotel for now.
“This is my first time living at the hotel,” said Ruiz, a communication arts major concentrating in convergent media. “But so far it’s going good. The pool is great, we get discounts at the café and I get a big bed.”
Ruiz said she rides to campus with her cousin two days a week and rides the bus the other three days. She said she refuses to take VIA anywhere later in the evenings.
“I like living here at the hotel better than the dorms,” Ruiz said. “But I’ve never lived with a roommate or ridden the bus before. Those are both firsts for me. It’s something I’m still getting used to.”
UIW resident assistant assignments
Only one University of the Incarnate Word resident assistant — Adrienne Brown, a senior education major from Carrollton, Texas — is assigned to Courtyard by Marriott this fall.
However, the Office of Residence Life is looking to hire another one.
Other on-campus resident assistant assignments include:
AGNESE-SOSA: Elisalauryn Colera, a sophomore psychology major from San Antonio; Lyndsey Reyna, a junior communication arts major concentrating in speech; and Matthew Suarez, a sophomore double-majoring in business and psychology from San Antonio.
AVOCA: Hannah Creaser, a senior elementary education major from Phoenix, Ariz.; Serena Elizondo, a senior communication arts major with a journalism concentration from Corpus Christi; Andrea Espinosa, a sophomore biology major from San Antonio; and Michael Farrenkopf, a senior kinesiology major from Longmont, Colo.
CLEMENT: Frederick Broussard, a sophomore pre-pharmacy major from Houston; Crawford Higgins, a senior communication arts major concentrating in journalism from McAllen, Texas; and Daniel Ryan, a senior government major from Detroit.
COLBERT: Jessica Barrera, a sophomore education major from El Paso; Lisa Buckman, a senior nuclear medicine major from Austin; Dominique Hunter, a sophomore nursing major from El Paso; and Katherine Reynolds, a sophomore biology major concentrating in pre-medicine.
DUBUIS: Michelle Pineda, a sophomore nursing major from Miami; Kevin Rodriquez, a sophomore rehabilitation sciences major from El Paso; and Chelsea Romero, a junior education major from El Paso.
HILLSIDE: Yagmur Balci, a sophomore business major from Ankara, Turkey; Victoria Benavidez, a sophomore education major from San Antonio; Elizabeth Rangel, a senior double-majoring in biology (pre-medicine concentration) and psychology; Ryan Zapalac, a sophomore double-majoring in psychology and English from Houston; and Arturo Zapata, a senior double-majoring in biology and environmental science from San Antonio.
JOERIS: Robert Anderson, a junior biology major from San Antonio; Florine Castillo, a sophomore business management major from Santa Maria, Calif.; Cristal Gonzalez, a sophomore business major concentrating in banking/finance from Houston; Aleck Rios, a junior double-majoring in sports management and pre-law; Katherine Schlagal, a sophomore music therapy major from San Antonio; Alexandra Vargas, a junior economics major concentrating in finance from Tucson, Ariz.; Sarah Waltz, a sophomore psychology major from Sacramento, Calif.; and Jenifer Zavala, a sophomore biology major from San Antonio.
MADELAINE: John Acton, a junior double-majoring in chemistry and mathematics from San Antonio; Paul Hernandez, a senior biology major from Laredo; Alyssa Lozano, a senior business management major from Arlington, Texas; Teddy Namirembe, a graduate assistant majoring in organizational development; Alexander Olivarez, a senior history major from San Antonio; Ching-yi Shiu, a junior majoring in chemistry with a pre-pre-pharmacy concentration from Hong Kong; Kehmia Tangeh, a junior chemistry major from Houston; and Emily Urquidi, a junior vision science major from El Paso.
MARIAN: Cassandra Martinez, a senior music composition major from Crowley, Texas, and Kristina Vasquez, a junior elementary education major from Austin.
McCOMBS: Justin Arredondo, a junior environmental science major from Taos, N.M.; Sophia Hedfelt, a junior mathematics major from San Antonio; and Quiana Wright, a junior nursing major from San Antonio.
ST. JOSEPH’S: Lauren Pesina, a junior marketing major from Dallas, and David Phillips, a graduate communication arts student from Jacksonville, Fla.